Analysis: Joe Biden and Democrats run up against relentless conservative power
Democrats control Washington but President Joe Biden is staring at a wall of conservative power, accrued over years and wielded with a ruthlessness and zeal for rule-breaking that his own party has rarely matched. © Jose Luis Magana/AP President Joe Biden speaks to the media after meeting privately with Senate Democrats, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) The President's struggles to implement his strategy to protect US democracy and reshape the economy to help working Americans are hampered by divisions in his own party.
Today marks one year since Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. From day one, the inaugural year of President Biden's administration was expected to bring with it a series of complex challenges.
The Democrat inherited a country in disarray, staring down the barrel of a troublesome pandemic, faced with growing social and political division, and economically burdened by the consequences of the continuing COVID crisis.
As Biden wraps up his freshman year in the Oval Office, he finds himself in a weaker position than when he was given the presidential baton last year.
On the week of his anniversary, Biden's approval rating is sitting at 42 percent, with over 52 percent of Americans disapproving of the way the President is handling his job.
Biden Narrowly Beats Trump in Latest Hypothetical 2024 Matchup Poll, Despite Low Approval
Three previous polls had shown Donald Trump ahead of the president.While Biden has repeatedly said that he plans to seek reelection, Trump has not officially confirmed whether he will run in the next presidential election. However, the former president has repeatedly teased the possibility, and most recent polls have suggested he would be well positioned to potentially defeat Biden in a rematch.
When he assumed power last year, Biden's approval ratings hovered around the 55 percent mark, while disapproval ratings sat in the mid-30s, according to RealClearPolitics, which has compiled data from hundreds of polls held over the last year.
Over the last year, Biden has averaged an approval rating of 48.9 percent, according to Gallup figures, giving Biden the second-lowest approval rating for a President's freshman year in the White House.
On this front, Biden is surpassed only by his predecessor Donald Trump, who entered his second year in power with an average approval rating of 38 percent. In contrast, Barack Obama culminated his inaugural year in office with an approval rating of 57 percent, George W. Bush with 68 percent and Bill Clinton averaged 49 percent.
A year into his presidency, Biden is polling at an all-time low
As the year progressed, Biden’s failure to turn his words into action led to cracks in his coalition — which are now turning into gaping holes. Currently, the president's overall approval rating is at an all-time low overall (33 percent), and on key issues, including the economy (34 percent), foreign policy (35 percent), and the coronavirus pandemic (39 percent), according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.
Biden maintained his early approval ratings during his administration's opening months, boosted by the reduction in COVID cases and mass vaccine roll-out. However, sharp declines began in July, following a surge in coronavirus cases over the summer due to the emergence of the Delta variant.
His approval rating first dipped below the 50 percent mark in mid-August and Biden has failed to recover since, according to RealClearPolitics data.
His ratings also took a hit after the U.S. military's turbulent withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August and the consequent terrorist attack on Kabul airport which killed 183 people, among them 13 U.S. troops.
The emergence of the Omicron variant and subsequent spike in coronavirus cases, prolonged economic uncertainty, continued inflation and disruption in the national supply chain, as well as political blows such as recent failures to pass key legislative bills have all dealt Biden a blow in the polls.
How to Watch Biden Speech Today: Time, Live Stream of First Press Conference in 10 Months
In Biden's first solo press conference in 10 months, he will likely discuss the pandemic and his administration's successes during his first year in office.Wednesday marks the eve of Biden's first anniversary in office and comes as the president struggles with low approval ratings. After starting off with high ratings, Biden's support among voters started to slip during America's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and has been on a downward trajectory as COVID cases rise.
The American population has also seemingly lost trust in Biden's administration, as an average of 62 percent believe the country is heading down the wrong track, according to RealClearPolitics. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13: U.S. President Joe Biden talks to reporters after meeting with Senate Democrats in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on January 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Biden has called on his fellow Democrats to go around Republican opposition, do away with the 60-vote threshold for advancing legislation in the Senate and pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom To Vote Act. The strategy is in doubt because Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) oppose doing away with the filibuster. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Americans were similarly disenfranchised with Biden's predecessor when he assumed office, and Biden actually narrowed the gap significantly in the first six months of his presidency, with 43 percent of Americans believing the country to be heading in the right direction at its peak. However, the gap broadened drastically once again from July onwards.
How Many Days Has Joe Biden Spent Away From The White House During His First Year?
Joe Biden has become the president who's spent the most time on personal travel on their freshman year in office.As a result, a significant portion of President Biden's opening year in the Oval Office has been spent far from it.
The final quarter of Biden's freshman year at the White House — which ran from October 20 to January 19 — he averaged an approval rate of 41.7 percent. This is the second-lowest approval rating for an incumbent president's fourth quarter, beaten only by Trump's fourth quarter average approval of 36.9 percent, according to Gallup statistics.
All other predecessors averaged approval ratings of over 50 percent in the fourth quarter of their inaugural year, with W. Bush peaking at 85.7 percent following stringent support after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Increased political division
When he was sworn in last year, Biden's approval ratings among his fellow Democrats sat at 98 percent, with 61 percent of independents favoring the President and 11 percent of Republicans approving, according to Gallup figures.
However, President Biden has seen those ratings consistently slip throughout the last year. Perhaps the most noticeable decline was seen among those in his own ranks. Since November, his approval among Democrats fell to hover around the low 80 percent mark in recent months.
Currently, an estimated 33 percent of independents approve of the President, whereas a mere 5 percent of his Republican counterparts approve.
The President has seen the approval gap between Democrats and Republicans reach a yearly average of 83 percent, considerably surpassing his predecessors, reflecting the entrenched political division the country is facing.
Ukraine, midterms and Build Back Better: White House plays cleanup after Biden's marathon press conference
Biden took questions for nearly two hours Wednesday. Remarks about Ukraine and election integrity prompted the White House to clarify his comments.For 1 hour and 51 minutes, Biden stood at a lectern in the White House East room, fielding more than 180 questions from 24 reporters. Almost no issue went untouched.
At the culmination of Trump's first year in the Oval Office, the Democrat-Republican gap averaged 75 percent, making it the most polarizing administration at the time. Trumps approval ratings among Democrats were equally low as Biden's current approval among Republicans, yet Trump did not enjoy as high an average approval among Republicans (83 percent) as Biden holds among the Democrats (91 percent).
According to Gallup, Biden's freshman year has been the second-most polarizing for any president during any year of their tenure, surpassed only by Trump's final year in the White House.
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Key Pa. Dems to miss Biden visit, cite scheduling conflicts .
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — President Joe Biden will appear in Pittsburgh on Friday as an opening step in a broader campaign to promote the White House's achievements in key states before the midterm elections. But two of the three leading Democrats on Pennsylvania's statewide ballot this spring who were invited to appear with Biden will not attend, their campaigns confirmed on the eve of the president's visit. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a leading Senate candidate, and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the likely Democratic nominee in the race for governor, will be absent because of scheduling conflicts, according to their spokespeople.